Panglao island next in DENR 'crackdown on environmental violators'

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced Thursday, February 22, that it has mobilized a regional investigating team that will check on the environmental compliance of resorts and commercial establishments in Bohol's Panglao island.

"We will comb through all the establishments in Panglao and impose a crackdown on environmental violators. What happened to Boracay is a wake-up call to others," Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said in a statement.

This week, Cimatu deployed a "mission team" to address the environmental problems in Boracay island, which President Rodrigo Duterte himself earlier described as a "cesspool." Cimatu was given 6 months to address the problem.

The regional investigating team in Panglao island is composed of a group of technical personnel from the regional Environmental Management Bureau in Central Visayas, and the provincial environment and natural resources office in Bohol.

According to the DENR, the team will first find out the establishments in Panglao Bay that are violating the Clean Water Act and the Solid Waste Management Act, and those that are encroaching on timberlands considered as no-build zones.

Gilbert Gonzales, regional director of DENR in Central Visayas, said the team will also check the establishments' sewage and wastewater facilities, including their garbage disposal systems.

"We have to look into the land classification of these areas to make sure that public owned or forestlands are not occupied by illegal settlers or illegal structures built and operated by local or foreign business owners," Gonzales said in the statement.

He added: "Once the list of erring establishments is formed, we will issue notices of violation to owners and operators of these businesses. Cease and Desist orders will be given to enterprises whose owners fail to take appropriate action."

The DENR urged the local government in Central Visayas to require  a discharge permit for the issuance of a business permit.

According to the DENR, the coastal waters of Panglao are classified as Class SB, meaning, they are intended for swimming, ecotourism, and other related activities. In addition, the coastal waters are also considered spawning areas for Chanos chanos or bangus, and other similar species. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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